Washington (CNN) -- The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to overturn the ban on openly gay and lesbian soldiers serving in the U.S. military, passing legislation repealing the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The bill -- a so-called "standalone" measure not tied to any other legislative items -- passed 250 to 175 in a virtual party-line vote. It now advances to the Senate.
The House previously passed a repeal of the ban as part of a larger defense spending authorization bill, but the measure stalled last week in the Senate.
"Now is the time for us to act," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California. "We should honor the service of all who want to contribute" to America's security. "Repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' makes for good public policy." (Continues here)
"Discrimination is wrong," declared Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia. "On the battlefield it does not matter who you love. Only the flag that you serve."
Conservative Republicans argued, among other things, that a repeal would place an unreasonable burden on the military at a time when it is already facing severe strains in Afghanistan and elsewhere.